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December 30, 2012Central Michigan head coach Keno Davis addressed the media addressed the media after his team lost 88-73 to the No. 2 team in the country, the Michigan Wolverines.
I will start off by saying that I'm really proud of our ballclub tonight. There wasn't much predicted of us this year and with seven wins, we have already surpassed a lot of people's expectations. I know our young players want more. We want to be able to try to compete in our conference and we knew this was going to be a great opportunity for us to play against the No. 2 team in the country. The start of the game took a toll on us, but it wasn't surprising to me on how hard we fought to keep the game respectable. I think our future is pretty bright because of the quality of individual student athletes that we have on this team and I'm proud to be able to coach them.
On outrebounding Michigan
We knew into this game that if we didn't rebound with Michigan that the game would be over before it started. We had to make sure that even though we were undersized that we chased down all the rebounds from all positions and it's really been our focus, especially with Zach Saylor out, who is truly our only post player. Sometimes rebounding can get away from us because of that, but our focus on rebounding in practice really paid dividends for us tonight.
On Spencer Krannitz' nine rebounds
You know it's an unbelievable number, that you can get nine rebounds in seventeen minutes. He is just scratching the surface of how good he can become. He is already a great shooter and has incredible confidence from outside. I told him when we made the decision to play him and use him this year while we were at Pepperdine because of our injuries that you could see him anywhere. You could see him at any of the guard spots or you could see him as a power forward. We will just try to find a spot for him because he can make things happen and he also puts so much pressure on the defense because of his shooting ability. If he is able to be a consistent rebounder for us you are going to see more and more minutes out of Spencer Krannitz the rest of the season.
On Saylor's injury status
Our hope is that he will be back for conference play. Does that mean for the first conference game or the fifth one? That just depends on how his rehab goes. We will look at him in a day-to-day manner, but I know we are a better team when we have him in there. He brings experience and a post presence to us. He allows others to play different positions on the basketball court and he's been a tremendous addition to our team. We didn't think we would have him back for his fifth year and even with him injured, he is a team leader for us. He is a guy on the bench that is helping guys out when he see's things on the court and he is an emotional leader for us as well.
On how tough it is to get stops against the Michigan offense
Well we held them to 52 percent, but in the first eight minutes they had been shooting at least 80 percent. We were trying different things and were a little intimidated at the start, but we were also trying to do different things defensively to try to keep them on the perimeter. I thought our three-point defense was pretty good there in the first half, holding them to 28 percent, but we couldn't hold them out there enough. I think the lack of our post presence on defense hurt us, but also you're talking about the No. 2 team in the country. When you take one thing away, they're going to hurt you in other ways. They don't have any weaknesses on this team. They have guys that can score the basketball and can do just about everything.
On Derrick Richardson
Derrick is another young man that has incredible upside for our team. He makes a play every day that makes you say "wow that is a big time play for a freshman." He comes in here tonight and goes 5-for-5 from the field and gets six rebounds in 18 minutes. That is good for our program because he is not only an offensive threat, but in the future, I think he has a chance to be one of the best defensive players in our league.
On how he compares Michigan to other teams he has coached against
They are as good as any. I don't think I've seen a team that is better. They have so many different weapons and are very worthy of a No. 2 ranking. I think you could make an argument for No. 1. It will be fun to watch them and not have to play them again this year.
On what you get from playing a team of this caliber
I think you get exposed for what your weaknesses are. The weaknesses we had tonight were some unforced turnovers. We also showed some immaturity as far as starting the game slow in a hostile environment. The next time we are in a big game or have a hostile crowd against a ranked team, we will have a little bit better comfort level heading in.
On how the non-conference schedule has helped the team going into conference play
I didn't schedule many of these games. I hope it gets us ready, but we had way too much travel. We have been all over the country; not as been home games as you would like to have, but I think when you are talking about a young team this is experience for them. It's an opportunity to come off finals week and play a day and a half later and have to travel across the country or come back and play three games in four days when your opponents haven't had to do that, or play the No. 2 team in the country. Those are great experiences for them as long as when you do lose, you take away some positives for that. We are able to come off this game and say we outrebounded the No. 2 team in the country at their place without using our starting center. We came back after being down by 25 points and cut into the lead. If you can take some of the reactions as positives then that can help your team. Some teams can't learn from losses because they get down and go their separate ways, but I feel we have a very close knit group. I think they will take this one to heart and get better from it.
On Olivier Mbaigoto
I look at Ovi and I don't see a senior. I see somebody that is starting to emerge and you see him one game come out and have over thirteen rebounds and a double-double. Then another game he won't be able to, I think part of it is health and being able to stay injury free. Some of the things that have been hampering him have slowed down his learning process. For us to be successful, we need a healthy Zach Saylor and Ovi to be in there. When those two are in there, we don't look as young as we really are.
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